Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811
Contact: Ray O'Neal, 425-772-7823
The body of a 34 year old male hiker was found today by park rangers in the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park. The name of the deceased is not being released at this time pending notification of next of kin.
The deceased and another male companion had entered the Narrows from the Riverside Walk Trail early Saturday morning, September 27. At that time, the river was running at approximately 46 cubic feet per second (CFS). At around 9:30 a.m. rain began to fall and the pair decided to end their hike and go back down the Narrows to the Riverside Walk Trail. During their walk out, the river started rising rapidly and quickly reached flash flood levels, peaking at 4,020 CFS. The two hikers became stranded on high ground, but on opposite sides of the river. They could not communicate due to the noise from the river. They waited from around 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the water to recede, but it was still too high for them to hike out. At that time, one of the hikers decided to try to exit the Narrows to the Riverside Walk Trail by swimming down the flooding river. The other hiker remained safe on high ground on the opposite side of the river. The hiker who entered the river safely made it out and contacted a park ranger at approximately 6:30 p.m. He informed park rangers that his companion was still stranded on high ground, but was not injured or in distress. Rangers arrived at the Narrows, but the river was still flowing at approximately 1,000 –1,500 CFS which is too high for them to safely enter the river from downstream. They determined that the best course of action was to wait until morning when the river had receded to a safe level and rescue the overdue hiker, who was safe on high ground and not injured. Hikers are not allowed up the Narrows if stream flow exceeds 150 CFS.
Sunday morning, a ranger rescue team was notified by the overdue hiker's companion that he had hiked into the Narrows earlier that morning but could not locate his partner at the point last seen. The rescue effort then turned into a search. The overdue hiker's body was found by the search team at approximately 2 p.m. along the bank of the Virgin River near the Riverside Walk.
More information about this incident will be available in the following days.
Last updated: February 24, 2015